2,750-year-old temple discovered three miles west of Jerusalem
Amazing archeological find was site of ritual cult, researchers say
A most amazing find has been uncovered three miles west of Jerusalem. While workers were excavating for Israel's Highway 1, a 2,750-year-old temple was found. The temple held a treasure trove of figurines, which suggest the place was a onetime home to a ritual cult.
Some of the figurines in the temple represented animals, such as horses in harnesses, while others had human-like heads with curling hair and flat headdresses.
"The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple," excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz were quoted as saying.
According to the Bible, the First Temple was built in Jerusalem by Solomon, son of King David, and archaeologists estimate that construction was undertaken in the 10th century B.C.
The Tel Motza temple must have been active in an era "prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem," The excavation's directors said.
Tel Motza is thought to have been associated with the ancient settlement called "Mozah" in the Book of Joshua. Archaeologists had uncovered a large structure with storehouses and a number of silos in previous excavations. Authorities say that the structure might have served as a storage facility for Jerusalem's grain supplies.
Among the many striking fixtures, the temple has massive walls and a wide, east-facing entrance. This falls in line with the tradition of temple construction at the time. "The rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within," authorities say.
Archaeologists found what appeared to be a square altar inside, which included a cache of ritual items. Those items included fragments of pottery chalices, decorated ritual pedestals and two types of pottery figurines. Some of the figurines represented animals, such as horses in harnesses, while others had human-like heads with curling hair and flat headdresses. Such figurines hint at the influence of Philistine coastal culture.
"The find of the sacred structure, together with the accompanying cache of sacred vessels, and especially the significant coastal influence evident in the anthropomorphic figurines, still require extensive research," the directors said.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Jerusalem, temple, Tel Motza, figurines
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